Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine
Spitball is a literary baseball magazine founded in 1981 and dedicated to poetry, short fiction, prose, art, and book reviews; all devoted to baseball. In 1983 Spitball established the CASEY Award to honor the authors and publishers of the best baseball books published each year. The CASEY was the first award of its kind, and it is widely recognized as the most prestigious award that a baseball book can be given.
A key component of Spitball's mission is the timely publication of authoritative, lively, and appreciative reviews of quality baseball books. These reviews can be found in our Baseball Books Reviewed section. We also publish short and to-the-point reviews of current baseball books in the "Baseball Book News" column at the back of each issue of Spitball Magazine.
Spitball's Latest News
June 3, 2022
CASEY Award Judges for 2022 Announced
Spitball is pleased to announce the members of the Judges Panel for the historic 2022 CASEY Award, marking the 40th anniversary of the first and oldest award for Best Baseball Book of the Year:
A former #1 draft pick of Charlie Finley's Kansas City Athletics, Skip Lockwood (Rye, NH) played for five major league teams, including the legendary Seattle Pilots. He had his best years working out of the New York Mets bullpen in 1976 and 1977, when he recorded 19 and 20 saves respectively. He posted a 2.80 ERA over his five-year stint with the Mets and is considered one of the best relievers in team history. Lockwood earned a Master's degree from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, authored the well-received Insight Pitch: My Life as a Major League Closer (Skyhorse Publishers, 2018) without the aid of a ghostwriter, and today lectures on sports psychology.
A fixture on the Atlanta baseball scene, Al Morris (Atlanta, GA) attended his first professional baseball game at the famous Ponce de Leon Park, home of the Southern Association Atlanta Crackers, when he was seven years old. An Atlanta Braves season ticker holder for 25 years, he is the Secretary of the Atlanta 400 Baseball Fan Club. Co-founder of "B4" (a group of fans devoted to baseball, bar-b-que, burial grounds, and battle fields), Morris conducts guided tours of Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery, the site of the city's first organized baseball game on May 12, 1866.
College professor Mark Walling (Ada, OK) played shortstop on four state high school championship teams and once hit a home run off Mike Moore, who went on to enjoy a 13-year career pitching in the big leagues. Walling teaches creative writing and film at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, and has published stories in a wide variety of publications, such as The Sewanee Review, Louisiana Literature, and Concho River. He has also published essays on filmmakers David Lynch and Tim Burton with the University of Kentucky Press.
"Spitball is extremely pleased with the composition of this year's Judges panel for the 2022 CASEY Award," said Editor-in-Chief Mike Shannon. "It should be obvious to everyone that the group represents a wide range of baseball knowledge and experience, and we are super confident that whatever decision they render at the end of the process, it will be the best one. The competition for the big prize will no doubt be fierce, as it usually is, but with Judges such as these, the Nominated authors and publishers should also feel confident that their books will all get a fair shake." Shannon also noted that Mr. Lockwood becomes the fourth ex-major league player to serve as a CASEY Award Judge, joining John Curtis (1994), Wes Parker (2003), and John Poff (2012).
Finalists for the 2022 CASEY Award will be announced in early November, and all authors and publishers who wish to have their baseball books published during this calendar year considered for the oldest and most prestigious honor a baseball book can receive should make certain that review copies of their books are sent in a timely manner to Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine.
May 30, 2022
Issue # 90, Spring 2022 On Its Way to All Subscribers
The spring 2022 issue of Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine is now on its way to all subscribers, advertisers, and publishers of books reviewed in the issue. If you do not receive your issue within two weeks of today (May 30, 2022), please contact Editor-in-Chief Mike Shannon immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issue number 90 features two short stories, one about the minor league game by bad-ass Clint Courtney and another, a delicious spoof and extended analogy by Justin O'Brien. The issue contains a wealth of wonderful poems ... by reliable contributors Edwin Romond, Tom Reynolds, Tim Peeler, and Tim Tocher; as well as by newcomers John Davis, Skooter Fein, Clemens Schoenebeck, and Mark Walling. Collage artist Glenn Shiring is featured in the "Brushes with Baseball" column, while the subject of the "Spitball Interview" is none other than BALLZAK, the Magnificent! While always interesting, the latter column represents a real coup for Spitball, as the reclusive (thankfully) BALLZAK has been most unreceptive to overtures from inquiring minds for the entirety of his long career. Reviews of baseball books new for 2022, another memorable illustration by Richard Tomasic, and a Card Blanche reflection on new Hall of Famer Jim Kaat round out the issue. Leading off, of course, is the inestimable Donnie Pollard, whose portrait of Hank Aaron will grace the cover.
This issue marks the final approach of Spitball's long journey to 100 issues, a milestone that must be considered a minor publishing miracle. It has been a joy and a privilege to guide the ship this far, and we thank the thousands of baseball- and literature-loving people who have helped us along the way: all the assistant editors, the talented artists and writers we have been honored to publish, the authors and publishers of all the great baseball books we have reviewed and recognized through the CASEY Awards program, and, most of all, you subscribers who have paid the freight to keep us going ... since, can you believe it, 1981!
Finally, if you are reading this and consider yourself a literate baseball fan but are not a subscriber ... what in the name of Bing Podie are you waiting for? Issue 101?
March 7, 2022
Record Crowd Witnesses Joe Posnanski Accept Pair of CASEY Awards for The Baseball 100 and The Soul of Baseball
Sunday, March 6, was a historic day in the history of the CASEY Awards, as Joe Posnanski accepted not one but two CASEY Awards, symbolizing the Best Baseball Book of the Year. Posnanski won the 2021 CASEY for The Baseball 100, a collection of superb essays on the greatest baseball players ever, which made him a two-time winner of the Award. However, in front of a record-setting crowd, he was also presented with a second CASEY on Sunday, the one he earned back in 2007 for The Soul of Baseball. Due to circumstances beyond the control of Spitball, the ceremony that year was canceled at the last minute, and Joe was denied his day in the CASEY Award spotlight. Sunday's ceremony rectified that injustice, and now all is right in the world of baseball literature.
Posnanski held the crowd spellbound while describing the lengthy, start-and-stop-and-begin again process he went through in compiling The Baseball 100, and the audience got a valuable insight into how much hard work goes into the writing of such a literate and well-researched tome. Joe acknowledged his editor at Avid Reader Press, Jofie Ferrari-Adler, for having the courage to sign up an 869-page baseball book, and rightfully so. He also spoke eloquently about his previous CASEY-winning book and its subject, the beloved Negro League legend Buck O'Neil; explaining how Buck reacted with the utmost class to the disappointment of not being elected to the Hall of Fame in what was his final try while he was alive.
Also on hand to accept 2021 Nomination Awards were the co-authors of Cobra, Dave Jordan and Dave Parker. Jordan thanked his wife for her support of his writing efforts, and Parker said he wished everyone in attendance could have played major league baseball so that they could have had as much fun doing so as he did.
Spitball congratulates Joe Posnanski and Avid Reader Press on their 2021 CASEY Award win, Dave Jordan and Dave Parker, and all the other Nominated authors and publishers. We thank the 2021 CASEY Award Judges (Kostya Kennedy, Rob Langenderfer, and Larry Phillips) for a job well done, and we express our gratitude for the amazing hospitality of hosts Meg Shannon and Michael Jonson of Poor Michael's Sports Bar & Restaurant. Finally, we tip our caps to all the great baseball and baseball literature fans who packed the venue on the 6th and made the event the spectacular success it was.
January 16, 2022
THE BASEBALL 100 by Joe Posnanski Wins 2021 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year
Spitball Magazine is pleased to announce that the 2021 CASEY Award has been won by Joe Posnanski and Avid Reader Press for The Baseball 100, a ranking of the best players in baseball history with brilliant essays devoted to each player in the ranking. The Baseball 100 received votes of 1, 2, and 3 for a total low score of 6 points. Finishing in second place was Forty Years a Giant: The Life of Horace Stoneham, written by Steven Treder and published by the University of Nebraska Press. Forty Years a Giant received votes of 1, 2, and 6 for a total of 9 points, 3 behind the winning book. Cheated: The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing (Doubleday) by Andy Martino received the other 1st place vote and finished in a tie for third place with Our Team; The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series that Changed Baseball (Luke Eppling and Flatiron Books); each book receiving a score of 13 points.
Judge Rob Langenderfer called The Baseball 100 "a thoughtful book which tells more unknown stories about the backgrounds of the players than any other book of this type. It provides much interesting analysis and showcases each figure as a baseball player and a human being." Judge Kostya Kennedy said the book "feels like a perfect life companion, rich in pleasures, surprises, and satisfactions."
Spitball Editor Mike Shannon said, "We are grateful for the job that our three Judges (Langenderfer, Kennedy, and Larry Phillips) did in fulfilling their important task. In coming to a clear consensus, they did exactly what they were called upon to do: select the one book out of a very strong field that deserves to be recognized more than any other as the Best Baseball Book of the Year. We sincerely congratulate them and thank them for a job well done. We also extend our heartiest congratulations to Joe Posnanski and Avid Reader Press for becoming the winners of the 39th annual CASEY Award, and we congratulate all the other Nominated Finalists, as well. Finally, we thank all the publishers and authors who participated in the CASEY Award process by sending review copies of their 2021 baseball books to Spitball Magazine. "
The 39th annual CASEY Awards ceremony will take place in early March 2022 at Poor Michaels' Karaoke Bar & Restaurant. The date of the event will be announced on this website in the coming days.
December 2, 2021
Finalists for 2021 CASEY Award Announced
Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine has announced the Finalists for the 2021 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year: a list of nine outstanding books.
The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski (The Avid Readers Press);
The Bona Fide Legend of Cool Papa Bell: Speed, Grace, and the Negro Leagues by Lonnie Wheeler (Abrams Press);
The Bronx Zoom: Inside the New York Yankees' Most Bizarre Season by Bryan Hoch (Triumph Books);
Cheated: The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing by Andy Martino (Doubleday);
Cobra: A Life of Baseball and Brotherhood by Dave Parker and Dave Jordan (University of Nebraska Press);
Escape from Castro's Cuba by Tim Wendel (University of Nebraska Press);
Forty Years a Giant: The Life of Horace Stoneham by Steven Treder (University of Nebraska Press);
Lights, Camera, Fastball: How The Hollywood Stars Changed Baseball by Dan Taylor (Rowman & Littlefield); and
Our Team: The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series that Changed Baseball by Luke Epplin (Flatiron Books).
Spitball Editor Mike Shannon praised the list, saying, "This group of worthy candidates for the CASEY proves once again that baseball is an inexhaustible topic that continues to attract the brightest and most talented researchers and writers, as well as the best editors and publishers in the country. Any serious baseball fan will want every one of these books in his library, and we do not envy the Judges their task of deciding which of these books deserves, a little more than the others, to receive the highest honor which any baseball book, its author, and its publisher can receive. We congratulate all these authors and especially their publishers, as the risks of publishing have never been greater than they are today, yet these publishers recognized merit when they saw it and expertly ushered it into the wonderful books represented by this list of Finalists." Spitball extends thanks to all the publishers who participated in the 2021 CASEY Award competition. For information on the 39th annual CASEY Awards ceremony, please stay tuned to this website.
June 25, 2021
CASEY Award Policy Announcement
Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine has announced a policy to officially govern the administration of the CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year: henceforward, at least one of the three Judges newly seated on the three-Judge CASEY Award panel each year must be a current subscriber of the Magazine. CASEY Award Judges are not paid, but they do receive complimentary Judges' copies of the baseball books Nominated as Finalists, plus the honor and satisfaction of being an integral part of the process which determines the greatest honor the author and publisher of a baseball book can receive. The 2021 competition marks the 39th year of the existence of the CASEY Award, which was inaugurated in 1983.
According to Spitball Editor Mike Shannon, the announcement represents a formal declaration of what has been actual CASEY Award practice for some time. "When it comes to Judges for the CASEY, we are always looking for the same thing," he said. "We need people who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about both baseball and literature, and that pretty much defines the readership of Spitball Magazine. What this official policy does is recognize that fact, plus it gives us a chance to more deeply involve, even if it is one person at a time, our readership in the CASEY Award process. Our subscribers, in other words, begin to have a more proprietary relationship to the Award, which is a good thing. We have always invited our subscribers to nominate books for the CASEY Award each year, and we will continue to do that, but the opportunity to make nominations is open to everyone; including people who are not and have never been subscribers to Spitball Magazine. Being a Judge for the CASEY though is a much more important part of the overall process, and so we think it is only fair and natural that we ensure that our subscribers are always represented on the panel."
Shannon went on to say that this policy does not necessarily limit the composition of any year's panel to one Spitball subscriber; it merely ensures the presence of at least one subscriber. "We are not only proud of the CASEY Award itself," said Shannon, "but also of everyone who has been a part of it all these years: the winning authors and publishers, of course, but in addition to them ... all the authors and publishers nominated as Finalists, all the wonderful publishers who have supplied their Nominated books to the Judges, the Judges who have done such a great job in fulfilling their duty, all the loyal supporters and attendees of the many CASEY Award ceremonies we have sponsored, and all the generous people who have hosted the CASEYs. It's been a concerted effort by a lot of great people, and we are grateful to them all."
A related announcement about the Judges for the 2021 CASEY Award will be made in this space soon.
TOM GILBERT ACCEPTS 2020 CASEY AWARD AT 38TH ANNUAL CASEY AWARDS EXTRAVAGANZA
On Sunday, March 14, 2021, Tom W. Gilbert accepted the 2020 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year at the 38th Annual CASEY Awards Banquet in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gilbert spoke for a half hour to a sell-out crowd of Spitball Magazine and baseball literature supporters about his CASEY-winning book, "How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed, the True Story Revealed" and sold numerous copies of the book which he graciously signed and inscribed. In a wide-ranging address Gilbert cited the true origins of baseball, explaining how the game was first developed by amateurs in New York City and Brooklyn and then spread by them into all corners of the nation until it could legitimately be called the country's National Pastime, a sporting and health-enhancing activity that was truly American in its conception and character. In the following question-and-answer session he also spoke about misconceptions surrounding the vaunted 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Once again, the crowd rose to the occasion in exhibiting their baseball knowledge, and attendees Steve Blessinger, Jerry Hazelbaker, and former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tom Browning, "Mr. Perfect," took home "Baseball Trivia King" certificates (suitable for framing) for answering difficult questions.
Spitball congratulates Tom Gilbert and David R. Godine, Publisher, for producing the 2020 CASEY Award winner and extends sincere gratitude to the CASEY Award Judges for 2020 (Greg Gajus, Rob Neyer, and Lorine Parks) for a job well done. Spitball also thanks Poor Michael's Cafe and Karaoke Bar for hosting the 2020 CASEY Awards, all the dedicated baseball fans who attended the event, and Anne Jewell and the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum for producing the beautiful Louisville Slugger baseball bat which represents the CASEY Award.
How Baseball Happened Wins 2020 CASEY Award!
January 20, 2021
Spitball is pleased to announce that How Baseball Happened: Outrageous Lies Exposed! The True Story Revealed, written by Thomas W. Gilbert and published by David R. Godine, has won the 2020 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year. The ground-breaking history won in a landslide, garnering two first-place votes and one third-place vote from the three Judges.
Judge Lorine Parks called it "By far the best - brilliant, stimulating, funny. Does for baseball what David McCullough did for U.S. history: places baseball firmly in the mainstream of American culture." Judge Greg Gajus called the book "a worthy successor to Baseball in the Garden of Eden" and said it added a lot of original insights to what we already knew about the period in a most entertaining way.
Spitball Editor Mike Shannon concurred, adding, "We congratulate Mr. Gilbert and his publisher David R. Godine for a book that clearly makes a major contribution to baseball literature. From the very first page of How Baseball Happened, the reader knows he is in for an exciting, often witty and amusing, ride through the game's earliest years. I know that Spitball supporters throughout the Cincinnati area, some of the most knowledgeable baseball fans to be found anywhere, are now looking forward to hearing Mr. Gilbert speak in March. I also congratulate Judges Parks, Gajus, and Rob Neyer on a job well done. They did exactly what they were called upon to do: compare superb books of different genres to determine which one makes the greatest overall contribution to baseball literature. Kudos all around!"
Bouton: The Life of a Baseball Original, written by Mitchell Nathanson and published by the University of Nebraska Press, received the other first-place vote from the Judges and finished in second place.
The 38th Annual CASEY Awards ceremony will take place at 2:00 PM on Sunday, March 14, 2021, at Poor Michael's Sports Cafe and Karaoke Bar in Cincinnati, Ohio, at 11938 Hamilton Avenue, just south of Fairfield, Ohio. For more information about the event and the CASEY Award program, please contact Mike Shannon at email@example.com.
Jeremy Beer Accepts 37th CASEY Award for "Oscar Charleston: The Life and Legend of Baseball's Greatest Forgotten Player"
On Sunday, August 30, 2020, Jeremy Beer accepted the 37th annual CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year from Spitball Editor Mike Shannon at Wiedemann's Brewery and Restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Beer spoke for 25 minutes before a knowledgeable and appreciative crowd of Cincinnati-area baseball fans about the subject of his important biography, which has rescued one of the game's greatest players from the dust bin of baseball history. Beer explained that Charleston must be considered among a handful of the very best players, black or white, because of his unmatched resume. He said that Charleston's greatness consisted of four factors: his unmatched playing ability as an all-around great hitter, defender, and base runner/base stealer; his supremacy as a championship manager in Negro League baseball; his pioneering status as the first black scout employed by a team in the white major leagues; and the difficulties he routinely and bravely overcame to achieve his many accomplishments. At the conclusion of his remarks Mr. Beer took questions from the crowd for another 20 minutes and took a few practice swings with his beautiful blue & gold Louisville Slugger CASEY Award baseball bat. He now joins the pantheon of previous CASEY Award winners.
Prior to the presentation of the CASEY Award to Mr. Beer, the "Spitball Magazine crowd" once again displayed its amazing knowledge of baseball history during a shout-it-out trivia quiz, based on questions taken from 2019 baseball books; and Greg Gajus, Deron Grothaus, John "Hondo" Skurkay, and Rob Langenderfer took home "Baseball Trivia King" certificates, "suitable for framing." All 2019 baseball books received by Spitball for review were on display; and, as usual, BALLZAK, the Magnificent (aka Steve Blessinger) wowed the crowd with his humorous prognosticating abilities. Greg Gajus also accepted a Finalist Nomination Award for Baseball Revolutionaries: How the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings Rocked the Country and Made Baseball Famous. Spitball thanks the 2019 CASEY Award Judges, Dave Grob, Michael Leahy, and C.W. Spooner, for a job well done; Jon and Betsy Newberry of Wiedemann's Brewery for graciously hosting the 37th annual CASEYs; Jim Crowley, Doug King, and Eric Soergel for a great job as pinch-hit introducers of the Nominated Finalists during the official program; and especially all the patrons of the CASEY Awards who braved "the elements" to attend the event.
It's Always Baseball Season Here!
Yes, here at Spitball we too are disappointed that the baseball season hasn't started yet. But the postponement of the season due to the current health crisis doesn't mean that there is no baseball. Not when a new issue of Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine is right around the corner. The new, Spring 2020 issue is at the printer, and we hope to send it off to all subscribers soon. And what an issue it will be! In the "Spitball Interview" baseball travel writer Chris Epting tells us about his dream job, while in "Brushes with Baseball" innovative baseball card artist Matthew Lee Rosen gives us insight into how he creates his mind-blowing display pieces. Rich Puerzer provides a wonderful short story about the immortal Satchel Paige, that is beautifully counter-balanced by Dennis Bartel's amusing memoir about trying to even foul tip a Tom Seaver batting practice pitch. Terrific poems by Lorine Parks, Ken Moon, William Derge, Bill Keen, James Scruton, Chris Fahy, Joe Carriero, Mike Ceraolo, Douglas Malan, Thomas Reynolds, and Editors Mike Shannon and Mark Schraf round out the pleasurable reading. Add a "Card Blanche" rumination about the classic 1955 Topps Doubleheader set, another superb short story illustration by Richard Tomasic, and cover artist Donnie Pollard's show-stopping portrait of Dave Parker, along with his cover design that simply reeks with nostalgia for 1970s era baseball ... and you have an antidote to the season delay that will help you survive the baseball doldrums in style. If you consider yourself an intelligent baseball fan but you are not a subscriber to Spitball ... what in the heck are you waiting for!
And if you want to know the latest about the new crop of baseball books that have been released already for 2020, then check out the "Current Baseball Books" page on this website. The new books for this spring are all listed there ... just another service provided for those who love baseball and literature provided by Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine.
Rob Neyer Wows 'em at 36th Annual CASEY Awards Banquet
The 36th annual CASEY Awards Banquet was another sold-out affair and was highlighted by CASEY Award-winner Rob Neyer's fascinating and wide-ranging discussion of his winning book, Power Ball, and recent analytical trends which have dominated the game at the major league level and caused some fans to consider that game less interesting than its predecessor. The usual festivities were part of the afternoon, including door-prize give-aways, a shout-it-out trivia quiz based on 2018's baseball books, a display of all baseball books published in 2018, an appearance by BALLZAK, the Magnificent, a rundown of all books Nominated as Finalists for the 2018 CASEY, and Mr. Neyer's acceptance speech. After his formal remarks, Neyer took questions from the audience for almost 45 minutes. Author John Erardi was also on hand and accepted a Nomination Award for his biography, Tony Perez : From Cuba to Cooperstown. It was another very special event, and Spitball thanks all the Nominated authors and publishers, everyone who helped stage the event, especially Scott Schmidt of Crosley's Sports Bar & Eatery, and all those loyal fans of baseball literature who attended. It's because of that latter group that the CASEY Awards Banquet has become the premier Hot Stove League event on the baseball calendar!
NEW MAILING ADDRESS
It's official: Spitball now has a new mailing address, and all books for review, submissions, and correspondence should be mailed to:
536 Lassing Way
Walton, KY 41094
Please make a note of our new address.
BACK ISSUE SET
Complete sets of Spitball Magazine are not available, as numerous past issues are completely SOLD OUT. We do, however, offer back issue lots, containing 15-17 different back issues. The differing number of issues available is the result of supplies on hand and finds/repurchases of past issues. The current price of the Back Issues Lot is $30, postpaid.
PayPal Function Available for Purchase of Sample Copies
Sample copies may now be purchased via the PayPal function on this website. Simply go to the Store page and scroll down until you see "Sample Copy: $6" right below the "Lifetime Subscriber" offer.
New Price in Effect; Recognition for Lifetime Subscribers Coming Soon
When you invest in a LIFETIME Subscription to Spitball, you not only avoid the hassle of renewing every year, thereby saving us the trouble of reminding you to do so, you also guarantee that you will never miss an issue of the magazine. Ever. Most important of all, you help support the second oldest all-baseball periodical extant and the only one that is of a literary nature. The price for a LIFETIME Subscription has gone up $25 to $125, but that is still a remarkable value. Make yourself the envy of all your baseball buddies by becoming a Spitball LIFETIME Subscriber today! Visit the store page of this website to order your lifetime subscription.
Lifetime Subscribers are now acknowledged on a special page on the Spitball website. In addition, each Lifetime Subscriber is presented, as a token our appreciation, with a handsome certificate, meant to be framed and hung proudly in his home or office. Thanks to all subscribers and especially to those who have made a lifetime commitment to the Magazine.